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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Independence in Action
By Seneca (c. 4 B.C.–65 A.D.)
 
Translation of Aubrey Stewart

ALL men, brother Gallio, wish to live happily, but are dull at perceiving exactly what it is that makes life happy: and so far is it from being easy to attain to happiness, that the more eagerly a man struggles to reach it, the further he departs from it, if he takes the wrong road; for since this leads in the opposite direction, his very swiftness carries him all the further away. We must therefore define clearly what it is at which we aim; next we must consider by what path we may most speedily reach it: for on our journey itself, provided it be made in the right direction, we shall learn how much progress we have made each day, and how much nearer we are to the goal towards which our natural desires urge us. But as long as we wander at random, not following any guide except the shouts and discordant clamors of those who invite us to proceed in different directions, our short life will be wasted in useless roamings, even if we labor both day and night to get a good understanding. Let us not therefore decide whither we must tend, and by what path, without the advice of some experienced person, who has explored the region which we are about to enter: because this journey is not subject to the same conditions as others; for in them some distinctly understood track and inquiries made of the natives make it impossible for us to go wrong, but here the most beaten and frequented tracks are those which lead us most astray. Nothing, therefore, is more important than that we should not, like sheep, follow the flock that has gone before us, and thus proceed not whither we ought, but whither the rest are going.  1
 
 
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